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Self Development

8 Steps To Having Wildly Productive Mornings

Getting the most out of your morning before your brain wakes up.

James Clear

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You’ll wake up for about 25 000 mornings in your adult life, give or take a few. According to a report from the World Health Organization, the average life expectancy in the United States is 79 years old.

Most people in wealthy nations are hovering around the 80–year mark. Women in Japan are the highest, with an average life expectancy of 86 years.

If we use these average life expectancy numbers and assume that your adult life starts at 18 years old, then you’ve got about 68 years as an adult. (86 – 18 = 68) Perhaps a little less on average. A little more if you’re lucky.

(68 years as an adult) x (365 days each year) = 24 820 days.

Once I realised this, I started thinking about how I could develop a better morning routine. I still have a lot to learn, but here are some strategies that you can use to get the most out of your 25 000 mornings.

Here are eight strategies that I’ve found to be most effective for getting the most out of my morning:

1. Manage your energy, not your time

If you take a moment to think about it, you’ll probably realise that you are better at doing certain tasks at certain times. For example, my creative energy is highest in the morning, so that’s when I do my writing each day.

By comparison, I block out my afternoons for interviews, phone calls, and emails.

I don’t need my creative energy to be high for those tasks, so that’s the best time for me to get them done. And I tend to have my best workouts in the late afternoon or early evening, so that’s when I head to the gym.

What type of energy do you have in the morning? What task is that energy best suited for?

2. Prepare the night before

I don’t do this nearly as often as I should, but if you only do one thing each day then spend a few minutes each night organising your to–do list for tomorrow.

When I do it right, I’ll outline the article I’m going to write the next day and develop a short list of the most important items for me to accomplish. It takes 10 minutes that night and saves 3 hours the next day.

3. Don’t open email until noon

Sounds simple. Nobody does it. It took me awhile to get over the urge to open my inbox, but eventually I realised that everything can wait a few hours.

Nobody is going to email you about a true emergency (a death in the family, etc.), so leave your email alone for the first few hours of each day. Use the morning to do what’s important rather than responding to what is “urgent.”

4. Turn your phone off and leave it in another room

Or on your colleague’s desk. Or at the very least, put it somewhere that is out of sight. This eliminates the urge to check text messages, Facebook, Twitter, and so on. This simple strategy eliminates the likelihood of slipping into half–work where you waste time dividing your attention among meaningless tasks.

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The Power of Mornings. Why Successful Entrepreneurs are Early Risers

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5. Work in a cool place 

Have you ever noticed how you feel groggy and sluggish in a hot room? Turning the temperature down or moving to a cooler place is an easy way to focus your mind and body. (Hat tip to Michael Hyatt for this one.)

6. Sit up or stand up 

Your mind needs oxygen to work properly. Your lungs need to be able to expand and contract to fill your body with oxygen. That sounds simple enough, but here’s the problem: most people sit hunched over while staring at a screen and typing.

When you sit hunched over, your chest is in a collapsed position and your diaphragm is pressing against the bottom of your lungs, which hinders your ability to breathe easily and deeply.

Sit up straight or stand up and you’ll find that you can breathe easier and more fully. As a result, your brain will get more oxygen and you’ll be able to concentrate better.

(Small tip: When sitting, I usually place a pillow in the small of my back. This prevents my lower back from rounding, which keeps me more upright.)

7. Eat as a reward for working hard 

I practice intermittent fasting, which means that I eat my first meal around noon each day. I’ve been doing this for almost two years. There are plenty of health benefits.

But health is just one piece of the puzzle. I also fast because it allows me to get more out of my day. Take a moment to think about how much time people spend each day thinking, planning, and consuming food.

By adopting intermittent fasting, I don’t waste an hour each morning figuring out what to eat for breakfast, cooking it, and cleaning up. Instead, I use my morning to work on things that are important to me. Then, I eat good food and big meals as a reward for working hard.

8. Develop a “pre–game routine” to start your day

My morning routine starts by pouring a cold glass of water. Some people kick off their day with ten minutes of meditation. Similarly, you should have a sequence that starts your morning ritual.

This tiny routine signals to your brain that it’s time to get into work mode or exercise mode or whatever mode you need to be in to accomplish your task.

Additionally, a pre–game routine helps you overcome a lack of motivation and get things done even when you don’t feel like it.

The Power of a Morning Routine

Just as it’s rare for anyone to experience overnight success, it’s also rare for our lives crumble to pieces in an instant. Most unproductive or unhealthy behaviours are the result of slow, gradual choices that add up to bad habits. A wasted morning here. An unproductive morning there.

The good news is that exceptional results are also the result of consistent daily choices. Nowhere is this more true than with your morning routine. The way you start your day is often the way that you finish it.

Take, for example, Jack LaLanne. He woke up each day at 4am and spent the first 90 minutes lifting weights. Then, he went for a swim or a run for the next 30 minutes. For more than 60 years, he spent each morning doing this routine. In addition to being one of the most influential people in fitness in the last 100 years, LaLanne also lived to the ripe old age of 96.

This is no coincidence. What you do each morning is an indicator of how you approach your entire day. It’s the choices that we repeatedly make that determine the life we live, the health we enjoy, and the work we create.

You’ve got 25 000 mornings. What will you do with each one?

Do you have a morning routine or just getting out of bed an achievement? let us know in the comment section below…

Based in North Carolina, James Clear writes at JamesClear.com, where he uses behavior science to share ideas for mastering your habits, improving your health, and increasing your creativity. To receive his most popular articles, join his free weekly newsletter.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. andywassung

    Jan 16, 2014 at 12:55

    Thanks a lot for the tips…it’s applying them that is now the tough part. I don’t live rigidly by a diary routine, so I will just have to try and make routine and remember to plan for the next day, etc. I generally play squash and go for a swim in the morning which gets me buzzing. Your email idea is great because we shouldnt have emails open all the time. I often open them in the morning to find myself 3 hours later procrastinating over an email or distracted by them. A good read, thanks again

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Self Development

Fear As Foe And Friend: How To Master This Important Relationship

Our beliefs direct our behaviour and decision making. To conquer you fears, face them.

Erik Kruger

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There is a story that I love. It goes something like this: A long time ago a man was sitting in a bar in Damascus having a beer. As he finished his last sip he looked over to the corner and staring back at him was Death. The man froze. It was widely known that the day you see death is the day you die.

A few seconds later the man regained composure and ran out of the bar. Without looking back he jumped on a horse and rode as quickly and as far away as he could. Later that day he arrived in a town called Samarra.

The man checked into a motel, rushed up to his room, locked the door, and as he turned around, sitting in the corner was Death. Noting the man’s surprise, Death said to him, “You think that you’re surprised? Just imagine how surprised I was this morning when I saw you in the bar in Damascus knowing that I had an appointment with you here, tonight, in Samarra.”

This is a story about the inevitability of death. No matter how hard we try, it’s the fate that we cannot escape. However, that’s not the focus of this article.

Facing your fears

Instead, consider the way the man reacted to death. More specifically, how he reacted to fear. That’s something I’m sure you can relate to.

The life of an entrepreneur is filled with fear. The fear of failure, the fear of losing it all, the fear of judgement, the fear of rejection, the list goes on. We can never eliminate these fears. Trust me, I’ve worked with the best and they still struggle with many of these fears. The thing about entrepreneurs at the top of their game is that they are better at dealing with fear.

Related: 8 TED Talks To Help You Overcome Your Fear Of Failure

Imagine if instead of running away, the man in our story decided to embrace his fear. Imagine he calmly (while shaking inside) walked over to death and asked him why he was staring at him. Death might have told him about their inevitable appointment. The man could have left the bar to get his affairs in order. He could have had a final meal with family and friends. He could have gone for a last swim in the ocean. And then, when the time was right, met death as an old friend.

Does that not sound like a much better approach than to run away and hide? But how you can embrace fear? The answer to that is simple but by no means easy. Dealing with fear is all about the context and meaning we assign to it.

Unpacking context

When you’re working in your office, how scared are you of being bitten by a shark? Fear is very much dependent on the context. In many instances we have (some) control over context.

So, how can you control your context or environment? What can you do to actively decrease the fear becoming manifested? Fear of public speaking? Control the context by preparing well, getting coaching, dressing well, being ready. Fear of rejection? Control the context by understanding your prospect well, being prepared, showing up early so that you aren’t rushed, being friendly and welcoming.

Finding meaning

This is always one of my favourite areas to play in as coach. It has to do with the meaning we assign to situations in our lives. More simply put, the beliefs that we have and how they direct our behaviour and decision-making.

Back to our shark example, and this time you find yourself in the ocean. How worried are you now about a shark attack? Much more. However, next to you is a shark expert frolicking around. Happy as can be. How worried is he about the shark attack? Not at all. Why? Because he understands shark behaviour, he knows the statistics and miniscule chances of a shark attack occurring. Same context, different beliefs, resulting in different levels of fear.

This means that another way of dealing with fear is to examine the belief you have that creates the fear. Perhaps it’s an outdated or untested belief. The only way you will know is by looking at it.

Through the fear

Fear is a dark passenger. Ready to tell you stories of doom and gloom. Ready to make you forget about the big dreams that you have. But it does not have to be. You journey. Your rules.

Learn to master your feelings and the approach that you take towards the challenges and risks in your life, and you will not only feel lighter, but able to embrace fear as an old friend without becoming consumed by it.

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Self Development

Peak Performance: Multiply Personal And Team Business Performance

Anyone can be a ‘Peak Performer’ and that includes you!

Dirk Coetsee

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‘Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection‘ – Mark Twain

As a Peak Performance coach my purpose is to make others successful, fulfilled and happy

The universal Principles of Peak Performance applies to Entrepreneurs, career orientated individuals, business teams, sports teams and individual performers such as public speakers and musicians.

Do you want to learn how to multiply your performance as an entrepreneur, career orientated individual, musician, public speaker, or sportsperson and reach the peak of your industry or sport? If you answered yes to the aforementioned question, then this article is meant for you.

The outputs of ‘Peak Performance’ coaching varies due to its universal application but includes multiplying profits and productivity, drastically increase team performance in business or in sport , and dramatically improve your performance as an artist, musician, or individual sports person.

A Peak Performance is described by psychologydictionary.org as:

“A performance at the best level of a person’s physical and cognitive abilities’

  • Which leads me to the ancient Chinese philosophical concept of ‘wu-wei’ meaning ‘effortless-effort’. It is truly awe inspiring to bare witness to an entrepreneur or athlete delivering a supreme performance with joy emanating from their being as proof of them being in a ‘peak mental state’.

‘Peak performance is not only about achieving a wonderful result it is also about experiencing the joy bubbling from your heart as you let go of all your fears , doubts and procrastination and just enjoy the moment as a soulful experience’.

Related: Peak Performance: How Do I Build A Culture Of Sustainable Growth?

Those entrepreneurs or performers that have not released the peer pressure, doubts and fears that circumvent their thinking and feelings place limitations on the fulfilment , happiness and joy that they could have experienced should they have let go of all ‘mental baggage’ that they carry. One of the keys to unlock your potential is to leave your past baggage behind as you go through the door of positive change and development.

This article will highlight three prominent barriers to your ultimate ‘Peak Performance’ yet will reveal three key principles that when consistently applied will empower you towards unleashing your potential and become a ‘Peak Performer’ in any area of your life.

1. Barrier to Peak Performance: Limiting beliefs

When you entertain such limiting beliefs as ‘I am not worthy’, ‘I do not possess the resources to succeed’, ‘I am not intelligent enough’, it will limit your performance within any area of your life within which you entertain those beliefs.

Some top sport performers believe that only the seriously talented can be at the top and that talent means you do not have to work hard. For sure it is possible to reach the top based on superior talent alone but you will not be a sustainable success. Those with the potent combination of talent, mental strength and the willing ness to work hard will eventually catch up and dramatically outperform those with the limiting belief that my talent alone is enough.

2. Barrier to Peak Performance: Procrastination

If you are a serial procrastinator as an entrepreneur by the time you have actually executed a decision the ‘Peak Performer’ has already executed, failed and corrected his/her mistakes several times and is outperforming you.

3. Barrier to Peak Performance: Perfectionism

“Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection” – Mark Twain

Perfectionists often suffer from a fixed mind-set which is revealed thoroughly when the face glaring imperfections. This fixed mind-set dictates that perfectionists will rather walk away from the situation than aim to continuously improve which is a key driver to Peak performance. It is perfectly ok to fail as long as you apply the learnings of the failure and grow.

Be open to the fact that more often than not you are going to face imperfect conditions and timing in business, bad weather and facility conditions in sport, and ups and downs in any career.  The discipline and willingness to continuously work hard even for small improvements removes the focus on perfectionism to learning and growing continuously.

The above three barriers to ‘Peak Performance’ are very prominent ones but not the only ones that you will have to break through on your journey towards being a ‘Peak Performer’.

When you google who was the mentor of Nelson Mandela Oliver Tambo’s’ name will pop up. Tony Robbins had a mentor. Ray Dalio has been coached by Tony Robbins in return. And that brings the good news – you can be coached or mentored to break through the barriers that limits your performance.

Related: The Anatomy Of Peak Performance

The key questions here are:

“Are you coachable?” and “Do you want success and happiness badly enough?”

1. Empowering belief towards Peak Performance: Purpose

Clarity of purpose is a key driver towards ‘Peak Performance’. Purpose is ‘your why’, that very good reason why you do what you do. Two entrepreneurs of equal intelligence, resources, talent and skill start a venture within the same industry, whom will outperform the other?

The one does not really love the industry and is not truly inspired by what he is doing, the other has a real sense of Purpose and truly loves the industry. Logic dictates that the one with the real sense of purpose will more easily overcome obstacles and will truly be inspired towards Peak Performance.

The fine print to Purpose is that Purpose is a powerful belief but yet is just a belief. Underpinning purpose you must consistently do what is required to actualise your purpose and do so with patience and discipline.

2. Empowering belief towards Peak Performance: Peak mental state

We all know from personal experience that when you are de-motivated and negative thoughts dominate your mind that a very good performance is unlikely to result from that state.

You can train yourself or be trained to almost always be in a peak mental state where you are anchored in positive beliefs and in strong positive emotions about those beliefs. From this state a Peak performance is much more likely.

3. Empowering belief: Take immediate, consistent and disciplined action

When we feel overwhelmed we either do nothing or very little in general. We also tend to procrastinate when we are unsure of the course of action we should be taking or when we doubt our abilities. When we know exactly what our purpose is we do know what our priorities are and once we are sure of our priorities when know how to allocate the right amount of time to our activities that serves our purpose.

We all feel overwhelmed and or fearful at some point. The key here is to still take action in the face of being overwhelmed and fearful. When overwhelmed and fearful a critical question to ask yourself is: What is the smallest and easiest thing I can do right now to start improving the situation? Once you have taken action it creates momentum and it gives you confidence to take the next action required.

Use your fears and doubts as triggers to take action. Small actions at first to train yourself and to give you more confidence to gradually take bolder steps. The Navy seals in general are not fearless human beings they were just trained to use their fears as ‘triggers’ to take action and this is possible for everyone.

Here is an empowering belief for you:

Anyone can be a ‘Peak Performer’ and that includes you!

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Self Development

Research: The Power Of Meditation That Will Blow Your Mind

How transcendental meditation can improve your life and help you achieve the highest levels of success. Don’t believe us? Keep reading and find out

Nicole Crampton

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If I told you a group of meditators could stop a war, eradicate violence, reduce infant mortality and increase primary school attendance rates – would you believe me?

This exact scenario happened in our neighbouring country Mozambique. In 1992, the civil war that lasted 15 years came to an end. Joachim Chissano the leader of the winning forces took control of the country, instead of enacting revenge on the rebel forces, he promised there would be no prosecution or punishment.

He even went so far as to offer them half of the positions in the Mozambican army, and he gave them a chance to gain power through political means. Two years later, Mozambique’s had her first ever multiparty election, Chissano and the former rebel leader were up against each other in the polls.

After winning, he focused on reducing poverty to establish lasting peace. Between 1997 and 2003, 3 million people, out of a population of 20 million, were rescued from extreme poverty. This led to a 35% decrease in infant mortality and a 65% increase in the number of children attending primary school.

The following sections will help you on your journey to find your personal “woosah”:

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